By: Kristen Paquet, Account Executive, Leonard & Finco Public Relations, Inc.

Being interviewed by the media seems like it would be any easy thing. The interviewer asks a question and you provide the answer. Done deal, right? Not so fast. If you’ve had experience with media interviews, or even if you haven’t, preparation is key if you want to be happy with the end result.

Why prepare? The answer seems obvious. You want to make a good impression, be articulate and represent your business or organization in the best way possible. But there are other reasons to prepare that you may not have thought of:

  1. Tough questions. Even if the interview is friendly, you never know when a reporter might ask a tough question or touch on a subject that you have not anticipated. Plan ahead by making a list of what those types of questions could be and practice your responses in case it comes up during the interview.
  2. You’re asked a question you don’t know the answer to. We’ve all dreaded this… what if a reporter asks you a question and you don’t know the answer (or are not able to respond to)? Instead of saying “I don’t know” or “no comment,” let the reporter know that although you may not be the right person, you are willing to help them out. Say something like “I don’t know the answer to that but I will look into it and get back to you.”
  3. Brief responses. You have about five seconds to make a good impression during an interview so make sure that every second counts. Know what your main messages or talking points for the interview are and be consistent in using them during the interview. Be concise in your responses and resist the urge to keep talking. Do your part to keep the interview moving along.

Here are few other quick tips to help you prepare:

  • Have someone in your office ask you possible questions and practice your response.
  • Practice your responses in a mirror to take note your facial expressions.
  • Pause before answering a question to gather your thoughts if necessary. Speak clearly and with authority.
  • If the interview is for television, don’t look directly into the camera. Talk to the person who is conducting the interview. If the interview is for print, offer some possible visuals for a photographer to take photos of.

Taking just a little time to prepare for an interview will help you secure the best interview possible. Has anyone out there had an experience when you weren’t as prepared for an interview as you should have been? Feel free to share your story so we all can learn!